Mad, Mad Response to One Tortured Playlist

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The Torture Playlist I pulled together—based on a leaked interrogation log, news reports, and the accounts of detainees and soldiers who’ve been torturers—has gotten, well, a lot of play. Of the feedback, perhaps most disturbing of all comes from DEICIDE’s Steve Asheim. The death metal band’s drummer says he’s stoked that their song F*** Your God has been used to torture detainees. “It’s cool. If we’re up to military standards of audio abuse, it makes me feel like DEICIDE’s doing our part for the troops.” Asheim’s father, uncle and grandfather served in the Army, so he said, “since I was so busy with the band thing, I’m glad I was eventually able to contribute somehow.”

He’s not the first artist to say they’re glad their music has helped “fight the terrorists.” Metallica’s James Hetfield told NPR’s Terry Gross in a 2004 interview, “For me, the lyrics are a form of expression, a freedom to express my insanity. If the Iraqis aren’t used to freedom, then I’m glad to be part of their exposure.” Hetfield said his music has been bothering parents for years, so why not the terrorists. “If I listened to a death metal band for 12 hours in a row, I’d go insane, too. I’d tell you anything you wanted to know.” (Metallica’s Enter Sandman is on the Playlist.)

Others have made statements opposing the use of their music to torture detainees. Clive Stafford Smith, a British lawyer representing several Guantanamo detainees, is spearheading an effort to sue the military based on copyright infringement. Rage Against the Machine (also on the list) even wrote to the State Department and the Armed Forces asking them to stop.

But so far, no comment from Barney or the Meow Mix guys.

—Justine Sharrock

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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